365 days ago, despite all the “what-ifs” I had in mind, I hopped on a plane from Manila to California with one suitcase and two brown large boxes. That travel was an emotional roller-coaster. I didn't want to migrate to the US and I didn’t want to leave my Mom behind, but I thought it was time for me and Daniel to build our foundation as married couple. What I mean by that is by living together. We were in a long-distance relationship for 6 years. No kidding! For that 6 years, we have only seen each other 4 times; in Malaysia for 3 days (2010), in Hong Kong for 3 days (2010), in Philippines for a month (2010, when we got engaged), and another month in the Philippines (2012, when we got married). If you’re asking how we survived 6 years without seeing each other that much, I’d just say maybe because we are both crazy in love with each other.
On top of Mount Tamalpais
Already, I’m just about to cap off my first full year of living in the US. I guess it’s true that time passes quickly when you are enjoying yourself. What are my conclusions after living here for a year? Am I homesick? Maybe but not really. Am I happy? Absolutely. Being here in the US, living with Daniel, is without a doubt has been one of the best years of my life so far. I’ve done more living here. Completely different from my lifestyle when I was in Makati City.
Before I share with you the highlights of my first year in the US, let me share with you something. I just think I should write this. If you are in a relationship with an American and thinking of moving to the US, Spousal visa would be the best option. I lost count of how many times I have mentioned this in conversations. I was in a spousal visa. One week after I arrived in the US, I received my SSN in the mail. Exactly a month after my arrival date, I received my 10-year Green Card. It was all sent to me automatically without filing anything. My friends who arrived here in a fiancé visa had to go through so much stuff to get their papers done. It took 8 months to a year for some to finally get their legal documents done. I do have a friend that has been here for over a year and still haven’t received her Green Card yet. Essential point, if you are torn between fiancé and spousal, spousal visa is I think the easiest and fastest way to settle down in the US.
Anyway, the last 365 days has been very interesting. Let me share with you some of the highlights in my first year in the US.
With Daniel, Kirstyn and Leilani.
First, I finally met my two wonderful step daughters, Kirstyn and Leilani. I have known these two since they were so little. Kirstyn was 6 and Leilani was 2 when Daniel and I started dating. I still remember when Leilani keeps calling my name but she can’t pronounce it correctly. She used to call me, “Ma-iyah”. Now, these two are 13 and 9 and almost as tall as me. Ha-ha! I had so much fun with them since I got here. I can’t wait to spend many more years with these two.
With Daniel's family in Arkansas
Second, I finally met Daniel’s family from Arkansas. They are awesome people. I spent my 2016 Christmas day with them. I felt sad though that I couldn’t meet Daniel’s Mom, Grandma and brother, Michael. They both passed away before I got here. Nevertheless, I know the three of them are happy that I am finally here with Daniel. I know they are watching and guiding us from above.
Left Phone: Daniel and I with my bosses and their wives / Right Phone: Daniel and I with my long time friend, Meryl, and her husband.
Third, business as usual and the reunion. (Left photo) I started working with Jex and Michael around 2011, in Makati City. Who would have thought that we will still see each other in California, and that I’d still be working with them? They are like my family here in the US. (Right photo) Meryl, my good friend, moved to Canada a couple of years ago, and I haven’t seen her since then. Not until when I moved to California and she happened to be here also. I missed her, and I am so happy that now we get to see each other from time to time.
Fourth, checked things off my bucket list, and “whoa” moments. Daniel and I traveled a lot since I got here. When I say a lot, it’s about 24,000 miles a lot. We traveled a lot around California, and we took a1,600-mile trip, by land, to Arkansas. Below are some photos of our adventures together.
Seeing the Golden Gate Bridge has been on my bucket list. When I finally saw it, I jump up and down and squealed. It was a “whoa” moment for me. It’s such a blessing that I was given an opportunity to see this masterpiece with Daniel. I will go back there someday to take a better photo of it.
Checked another one off my bucket list as well. Walking down the Hollywood Walk of Fame has been a dream of mine. And that dream came true. I walked down the Hollywood strips hoping to see the names of my favorite celebrities. I found them all, except Ellen’s. But I will go back there to find her name. ha-ha!
And here’s another one off my bucket list. Truly a “whoa” moment for me. It was my first time seeing snow ever. Having lived in the Philippines all my life where there is sun all year round, the only time that I’ve seen anything close to snow was from our refrigerator. I was so happy when I finally saw a snow in Arizona. I touched it, but no, I didn’t try tasting it. Ha-ha!
I had a lot of “whoa” moments since I got here in the US, but this one takes the cake. This place has a special place in my heart. This is Anthony Chapel at Garvan Woodland Gardens in Arkansas. Honestly, it was back in 2008 when I first saw this beautiful chapel in a magazine. When I saw this back then I told myself that I want to get married there. Fast forward, I was shocked when Daniel and I was in Arkansas. This place popped in my Google search results when I was browsing places to visit while we were there. God sure does work in mysterious ways. Though I have admired this chapel, I never really know its location. I find it amazing that I married a man who came from the place where this chapel was located. Fate it is!
I had a lot of “first-time-moments” in my first year here. I had my first deer meat in Arkansas. I had my first camping ever in Sequoia National Park with my family. I had my first lobster in TGIF, Irvine branch. I experienced my first drive-thru car wash in Hanford. Do I sound pathetic and ignorant now? Hahaha! And I felt ecstatic when I finally saw an F/A-18 super hornets when Daniel took me to Lemoore Naval Base. That was a dream come true for me. And, I had my first road trip ever when we visited Arkansas. We drove from California, to Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and to Arkansas. I sure had so much fun.
My life in the US is not a bed of roses though. I also had my difficulties, and there are times that I also get tired from adjusting and just simply want to fly back to the Philippines to feel comfortable again. Thankfully, I just happened to have a good husband, who is very loving, supportive and understanding. He makes me live in full color, and he makes me feel like I belong here. Now I am seeing things differently. I love it here. It’s beautiful, thrilling, and I get to see things I never dreamed of seeing. I have learned to create a comfortable environment in this unfamiliar place.
It’s been 1 year. Coming here had truly changed me for the better. I have become a better version of myself. I can’t wait to have more adventures and delicious food with Daniel.
P.S. I apologize to my K-drama fans followers. I have been watching Korean dramas since I got here but never really got a chance to post anything because of work. I promise I will update my Korean drama blog post. Kisses!
Thanks for reading,